For the third time in a week, the suddenly revived Michigan State Spartans blew out their opponent. This time it was against the Stony Brook Seawolves of the Colonial Athletic Association. I had to look them up. SBU is on Long Island in New York. Some research into this mascot. There is a type of wolf called a seawolf, but that animal lives in the Pacific Northwest, so that is probably not the source of this mascot name. So it probably gets its name from a fish called the Atlantic Wolffish, which is also called a seawolf among other names. This fish is pretty horrifying.
Now back to action from BTN+ (sorry if that triggered some of you). This is the sort of game that does not offer much to a journalist covering the team. It is hard to draw any conclusions when the two teams are so unevenly matched. I spent most of the time just feeling bad for the Seawolves’ players. Sure, the school got paid for this game, but that does not make these guys enjoy the ass-kicking any more. Maybe the only guy who enjoyed this was Toby Onyekonwu, who was getting to play against his high school teammate, Jeremy Fears.
For MSU, this game featured about half the roster having a career high in some category, mostly points. As I said before, that makes it hard to take anything from this. But I still have a job to do, so here goes.
3 Things I Liked:
- Coen Carr’s rocket. Coen had 3 blocked shots in this game, but it was the first one that was truly amazing to me. It occurred at the 11:30 mark of the first half and was MSU’s first block of the game. It occurred in the low post. SBU’s Andre Snoddy had the ball and went up for a jumper. He got off the ground before Carr did, who was in good position. But then Carr exploded like a rocket and got up higher and faster to swat that ball out toward midcourt. Coen hardly appeared to bend his knees in preparation to jump up for the block. My jaw dropped watching how fast he took off and how quickly he caught up with, and soared past, the shooter in the air. Everything this guy does is poised for the highlight reel.
- Career nights. A lot of these last night. Jaden Akins with a career-high 22 points. Jeremy Fears had a personal best ten assists. Xavier Booker got to double-digits for the first time, dropping in 11 points. Carr’s three blocks tied his career best, which he had against Duke, and his six boards tied the mark he had in the opener against James Madison. And then, Nick Sanders got his first career points when he swished a three from the wing in the final minute. Steven Izzo got an assist on that play, and along with the rebound he also had in this game, it was the first time he had an assist and a rebound in the same game!
- 33 assists on 38 made shots. For all the talk about Akins career high 22, not to mention Tyson Walker’s pedestrian 17, this game was most notable for the ball movement on display from the Spartans. Each of the two main point guards, Hoggard and Fears, reached ten dimes. Holloman was next with six, and Akins, Walker, Carr, and Izzo added to the team’s total. This was a good game to practice passing, and for the most part it was very crisp. There were a couple instances where the unselfishness backfired, but overall the offense was looking like a well-oiled machine. One set I noticed a few times that I particularly liked was when they had a lineup of Fears/Akins/Holloman. Akins and Holloman would set up outside the three-point arc, one to each side of the top of the key, while Fears set up shop in the FT circle. Fears was the focal point, either looking to drop it inside to a front court player if there, or sending it back out when that was not available. This formation did see some success in the limited opportunities it was used. Let’s see if this is something we witness more moving forward, even with other player combinations.
3 Things I Disliked:
- Free Throw shooting struggles. MSU went 11-17 from the line, good for 65%. Mady Sissoko was 2-2 on the night and he continues to be shooting at the best clip of any Spartan. He is shooting a Curry-like 89.5% on the season. For the season, only Hoggard and Holloman join Mady on the north side of 70%. This team is leaving too many points out there.
- Giving up offensive rebounds. For the second game in a row, MSU’s opponent pulled down 16 rebounds off their own misses. Let’s not let this become a pattern.
- Steven Izzo not shooting. From now on, when Steven is in the game, he needs to get the ball, Tom needs to tell him he is not allowed to pass, and the other four on the floor need to be doing nothing other than setting screens. And it would be nice if he could get in a little earlier so he gets more than two offensive possessions. Also, shame on Carr for taking that shot with 16 seconds remaining; he should have been looking to get that to Steven.
MSU now has nine days off before their final non-con game against Indiana State on December 30.
Happy Holidays, TOC Nation!